THE SUMMER sun is beating down on Bratislava, making it a nightmare to work in and a joy for visitors - an ideal time for the city leaders to try to persuade tourists to take a closer look at this central European capital.
The last thing the city needs as it launches its campaign to promote Bratislava is a fresh wave of mafia-based violence after a lull of almost four years.
However, that is exactly what seems likely to happen after the slaying of mafia boss, Ján Takáč, outside his suburban home on July 30. Like cockroaches, when one is killed another soon crawls in to takes its place. The scramble for the top and for revenge is set to be violent and bloody.
No doubt foreign journalists will pick up on the story and once again Slovakia will be portrayed on the Sunday breakfast tables of Europe as a lawless wasteland in the Wild East, just as it was last year when two football fans were shot in a Bratislava pub.
Just like then, the papers are unlikely to report the whole story. At that time, papers such as the British daily The Sun had headlines such as "Bloody night in Slovakia", failing to mention that the shooting had occurred after English hooligans had gone on the rampage in the city centre pub.
Bratislava's relatively low level of violent crime and attacks on tourists are unlikely to go reported. Despite the current events, Bratislava is a safe place to live, work and visit - a lot more so than most other capital cities, and even smaller cities in the so-called civilised West.
After all, there were over a thousand gun-related crimes in London last year, but people still have the impression that is a safe holiday destination.
So while on the one hand we cannot simply sweep these things under the carpet and pretend that all is well, we should not forget that Bratislava remains a generally peaceful and friendly city. Tourists are far more likely to notice the heat of the sun than the heating up of old gangland feuds.
11. Aug 2003 at 0:00